Like macrame and book-binding, soapmaking seems a pursuit meant only for the super crafty. But don’t be fooled– it’s actually as easy as making pasta. ..More or less. Last night, my friend, Hannah (of Hannah Bakery) brought a crew over to my place for this tutorial as part of her month-long birthday learning series. Let me give you a quick run-through of our exploration into this addictive and hygenic past time…
Things you’ll need…
Double boiler or crock pot: … Because you want to melt the soap base slowly. I got this double boiler for about $12 at Ikea. Alternatively you can buy this one online. A crock pot would be better if you were making an absurd amount of soap. It seems messier to me to too.
Shea Butter, Glycerin, Goat Milk, or Beeswax base: … You can buy these at the same craft stores. I also like a company called Millcreek Soy Wax that I usually order candle-making supplies from. (Candle-making is VERY similar to soap making, so if you’re interested, read my tutorial.)
Color: … There are special soap-dyes (Red, Yellow, Blue) that you can buy at the craft store. I have food coloring shown in the picture (below), but I didn’t end up using it. Food coloring purportedly does not work as well for soap-making.
Scent: You can use any essential oil for this. I like ones like rosehip and tea tree that are known to be good on the skin, as well as ones for their fragrance, such as jasmine and lavender, or peppermint for face soap.
Other Ingredients: My favorite, hands down, is olive oil. After spending some time in Spain and seeing how beautiful and elastic the women’s skin is, I’m a true believer in the moisturizing properties olive oil, especially face. You can also use rolled oats, dried lavender, rosemary, honey, almond oil, etc.. My weird, fiber-obsessed friend used barley. It actually looked pretty cool too.
Let’s Get Started!
Ok, so you have your materials. Here’s the super-easy run-down:
Step 1. Fill the bottom pot of the double boiler about 1/3 full, and bring to a boil.
Step 2. Add your soap base to the top boiler and cover to expedite the melting process. Stir occasionally. You can use a single base or mix bases. Just keep in mind that any amount of an opaque base will make your soap opaque. So, if you want your soap to be clear, stick to clear, glycerine-type bases.
Step 3. When the soap base is melted or getting close to melted, add your color, fragrances, and any oils or dissolvables (ie, honey). Remember, essential oils are strong, so you don’t need more than a few drops. A lot of it is trial and error too, because some oils are a lot more potent than others.
Step 4: Pour! I’ll elaborate here…
You can fill the mold all the way with your concoction. Or you can fill partially for a layered soap. If you fill all the way, don’t touch it or move the mold for the first 15 minutes. A normal-sized mold should take only about 40 minuted to harden enough for you to remove it. You can stick it in the freezer too, though I don’t recommend that if you’re using honey (it will be hard to get out).
For layered soap, you can now make and add a different concoction, or add a layer of something aesthetic or textured.
When you pop the soap out of the mold (“Hold it upside down and let gravity help”, insisted Hannah last night.), it may come out with what’s called flashing. (See image below). Flashing is a thin layer of soap from where it spread out of the mold. Just cut it off with a knife.
You can also play around with placing natural elements in the bottom of the mold, adding a thin layer of melted soap (to keep your design in place), and then filling the mold.
And voila! That should get you more than started. Last night, we had a blast making these. See some of our other creations from last night…
Hannah and her barley/silicone implant soap.
Stay clean, everyone!